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Sammy Jo Bell on right track for more glory at Doncaster

By Frank Brownlow

Sammy Jo Bell had a day she will never forget last Saturday - but tomorrow is also shaping up to be a crucial step in her burgeoning career.

Sammy Jo was the star of the show at Ascot last week, inspiring the women's team to victory in the Shergar Cup by riding a double.

That was good enough to secure the Silver Saddle, awarded to the event's top jockey - a stunning feat given that top riders like Jamie Spencer, Olivier Peslier, Pat Smullen and Hayley Turner were also in the running.

There won't be quite the same glitz and glamour at Doncaster tomorrow, but the 24-year-old Ulster rider has a big day ahead with four rides for her boss Richard Fahey.

Sammy Jo will be on board My Dad Syd, Farlow, Arctic Feeling and Pamushana, all for the Yorkshire-based trainer.

"It was absolutely amazing - to have two winners and win the Silver Saddle was outstanding. It'll take a lot to better that," Sammy Jo said.

The Dunadry rider was already enjoying the best season of her career, battling it out for the apprentice jockeys title, but last Saturday's exploits propelled her to a whole new level.

Before tomorrow's trip to Doncaster, Sammy Jo has three rides at Nottingham today.

Meanwhile, Andrew McNamara - who twice rode the winner of the Down Royal Festival feature, the Champion Chase - has said his decision to retire is not due to serious injuries suffered by two relatives.

The brother of Robbie McNamara and cousin of JT McNamara, who have both suffered horrific injuries in recent years, was keen to stress a problem with his back and constant battle with the scales had more influence on his decision.

The 32-year-old said: "People might think I am retiring due to my brother Robbie's and cousin JT McNamara's injuries but I have had back trouble plaguing me and between my height and keeping my weight right I am now moving on to what I always wanted to do -training."

McNamara rode Beef Or Salmon and The Listener to victory in the Down Royal Festival showpiece, while he also famously enjoyed success in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at the 2006 Cheltenham Festival when Newmill triumphed.

The Limerick jockey, who will ride for the last time at Tramore this weekend, said: "I'm renting some stables at Dot Love's yard, the facilities are second to none."

He added: "Winning a Champion Chase was a great thrill.

"I only got on Beef Or Salmon in the twilight of his career.

"I've absolutely loved it, growing up I thought I'd be too big and heavy to be a jockey, but I've lived my dream."

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